What: Centrifuge Training VCQB course
Where: New Smyrna Beach, FL, at the Volusia County Gun & Hunt Club Range
When: July 30-August 1, 2018
Why: I had heard great things about the class and the instructor and it was 30 minutes from my house.
I spent the last two days taking a class in Vehicle Close Quarter Battle (VCQB) with Centrifuge Training. Will Petty is the proprietor behind Centrifuge. He combines law enforcement and contracting perspectives. Will is an engaging and extremely knowledgeable instructor who combined some solid classroom work with demonstrations and practical exercises over the two day course. Dan (cop in Washington State) and Alex (didn't catch his background) were AI's. The AI's were good instructors in their own right. Will used them to demonstrate positions and exercises as well as accompany students on practical exercise drills.
The impetus behind the course is that the majority of law enforcement engagements involving deadly force take place in proximity to a vehicle. Will's theory is that by understanding the vehicle and the opportunities for protection it provides, you are better equipped to engage in these types of encounters. Will tossed out a few statistics based upon extensive research. With my legal background, I am always looking for evidence to prove/disprove theories. Will had a large base for his research and showed some of it. I suspect the 5 day instructor class will have more time with classroom and statistics.
My fellow students were a mixed bag. This was an open enrollment course. In it were cops, active duty mil, industry people, people with no connection to the industry, and fucking Sam. They were an active and engaged bunch. I had shot with many before at various local classes, and two students had been students of mine previously (CWP and a cop class). Everyone was good to go, and I saw no safety violations and no one highlighted themselves as "that guy". I'd shoot with any of them at any time. Equipment ran from duty rigs to CCW. Almost exclusively Glocks, with one 320-some variety of the X series. Many of the Glocks had been modified, and more pistols had optics (RMR's, Deltapoint Pros, and T1's) than did not. I used a Gen. 5 Glock 19 modified by Boresight Solutions out of a Safariland duty rig. I had no gun problems. Other people did, and I think most of it was due to conditions.
I previously bitched about the range in my review of the NRA Patrol Rifle Instructor class. We were on the same range, and it was just as wet. There were at least 2 inches of water over 75% of the range and some places as many as 6 inches. It is my understanding that the range was a last minute thing due to cancellations other places. I would be shocked if he holds another class there. I drove past mounds of dirt on the way in and the owner drove up on a backhoe on at least one occasion. It would have taken very little effort to throw some dirt down on the part of the range we were using, yet he didn't. He also charged $30 per day per student range fee-with 18 students, that's more than enough to take care of a problem that I know he's had since at least March.
That being said, didn't change the program one iota. The class is about close quarters battle around vehicles. We had four cars out there. We fought in, through, around, and under cars. Will explained how cars are rated for the amounts of kinetic energy they can absorb by a couple of certification bodies and how those tests are conducted. He explained which parts of vehicles are supposed to absorb the most damage and then proceeded to demonstrate how much damage they can absorb using handguns, shotguns, and rifles with a variety of ammunition. We had a brief positional shooting drill and then got after it. We worked the drills solo and in teams. The shooting itself wasn't designed to be challenging-the challenge is absorbing the information you are receiving it and processing it to solve the problem by shooting. The furthest shot we took was maybe 15 yards. Will explained that his program is civilian and stateside LE centric, and his statistics show that engagements beyond those distances are not as frequent as you would think. He bases that on his database, which looks impressive. The four positions were standing, squatting, kneeling, and prone. Everyone got wet and dirty. There was at least one vehicle where you were getting down in six inches of water. Guns got wet and dirty, mags got wet and dirty. I suspect that was a cause of the majority of malfunctions. I had no issues with the gun, but there were times that the heat and humidity seemed to keep me from hitting a steel plate at 15 yards. We were shooting in a hot, humid, swamp and I was feeling it. I drank a couple bottles of water before bed last night and didn't wake up to dehydrate once. The shooting culminated with team drills.
The entire program was safety focused. Will explained that "close" meant that you were going to have your gun out in close proximity to other people. Some of those people might react properly, and others might not. You were responsible for safety at all times, "earning your shot", and "moving the muzzle past the meat". We were taught a couple techniques for moving weapons around safely in proximity to others. I moved more slowly than I expected, largely because I was far more focused on doing it right and safe than being better or faster than anyone else. We wrapped up on day two with team drills, a debrief, and a class picture I missed because I was on a conference call for work.
All in all, it was an amazing class. I learned a lot, and I'm now focused on gaining an instructor certification. I learned things that I can take back to my agency that aren't currently being taught with obvious application to how we do our jobs. I strongly encourage you to take this class if you're serious about fighting with a gun.
Thanks to Will, Dan, & Alex for a great class. Thanks to my fellow students for being good shooters, safe shooters, and focusing on the class over the conditions. The range can piss up a rope. I can't wait to get Will back to Central Florida, but I'm pretty sure it won't be there.